Anyone else still running full steam ahead? Anyone else unable to turn your brain off for all the logistics, demands, expectations, and rhythms which come with today’s local church life? Your office has been your kitchen table or your phone, learning new things has an edit almost daily, and the many voices coming from all around directing you right now to make ministry with families look just like ‘before’.
I love my job, my calling, and my church family. Where I used to be able to draw distinct boundaries for sabbath, rest, and the brain break necessary to ‘run my race,’ I have not been able to consistently reset those boundaries and practices for a healthy me in over a year. Though I made substantial physical changes to lose 95 pounds during quarantine and have kept it off, I know I can not sustain another year running like this in my head. How do I get a new rhythm?
When Church Communications offered a free two-day, online, on-demand summit entitled Thrive & Cultivate to support the mental health of church leaders, I signed up and shared it all over social media for anyone who would listen. This professional organization led by Katie Allred and Kenny Jahng consistently provided the very best in education, support, innovation, and community over the last year. I knew this educational opportunity would meet my needs and they didn’t disappoint.
Dr. Merry C. Lin shared about our Resilient Zone – when and where our natural nervous system manages life’s ups and downs. We can get stuck in a high and a low of our nervous system. Our great Creator has given us the tools to signal our minds and bodies, “I am safe,” when we over-function.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world (my self-directed over-functioning), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 My mind. Our gracious and merciful Creator has already given us the chemicals we need to tell our bodies, “I am safe,” so how can I get my mind to run those chemicals to say, “I am safe”?
Dr. Lin called these happiness hacks….
Dopamine – the reward chemical. How to turn it on? Complete a task, receive affirmation, celebrate a win.
Serotonin – the mood stabilizer. How to turn it on? Exercise, pray, meditate, be around nature, get some sun.
Oxytocin – the love hormone. How to turn it on? Hug, play, cuddle, give someone a compliment.
Endorphin – the pain killer. How to turn it on? Laughter, smell essential oils, eat chocolate, watch something light-hearted.
Chuck Mingo spoke of thriving in a perfect storm and invites us to be a trustworthy guide without stone cladding. Stone cladding is a construction term for a structure which looks like stone and feels like stone, but is unable to bear the load or weight like real stone.
Debra Fileta shared, “Just because I feel something, doesn’t make it true.” My deep dive into apologetics over the last 18 months reminds me often that there is no real truth except God’s truth. He is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do, and I am who He says I am. That truth. Again, just because I feel it doesn’t make it true. Whew! Deep breath.
THEN, Ashley Aucker asked a question that made me press pause to return to the other talks another day because I was done….and grinning.
“Am I God’s employee or His child?”
So what am I going to do about all this? First, I shared the happiness hacks as the staff devotional last week. Second, I’ve gotten my creativity on where I can fully complete a task by painting an old dresser in our grandgirl’s signature color: bright azure blue. Third, I’m listening to music on my long commute home each evening rather than podcasts to give a healthier transition time to reset my brain. New music for a new season:
How are you resetting your rhythms?
“Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites, and temple servants.” 2 Chronicles 9:2